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View Diary: Update:Why is Obama Appointing Republicans as US Attorneys? (74 comments)

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  •  uh.. that might be traditional Senatorial courtesy (1+ / 0-)
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    miguelmas1

    for Senators of the same political party as the President to play a large role in nominations from their home states.

    Otherwise, the nomination process goes through the Senate Judiciary Committee with "blue slips." But, those blue slip approvals are not binding on the selection. And Patrick Leahy is the chair of the Judiciary Committee.

    One way in which senatorial courtesy has manifested itself is something called the "blue slip." This is a device used by the Senate Judiciary Committee to communicate with the home-state Senators about a nomination to the U.S. courts of appeal or district courts, or to be a U.S. marshal or U.S attorney. When a nominee is referred to the committee, the committee sends a letter (typically on light blue paper) asking the two home-state Senators to take a position on the nomination. The Senators check off the appropriate box on the sheet -- either approve or disapprove -- and return the paper to the Judiciary Committee.

    The "blue slip" process is used only by the Senate Judiciary Committee --no other Senate committe uses it for other kinds of nominations. The practice of using blue slips dates back to at least 1917. Since mid-2001, the status of blue slips for each judge nominated have been publicly available on the Web.

    It is a matter of some debate how important blue slips are in the confirmation process. The blue slip practice is not a formal part of the Judiciary Committee's rules, and the determination of just how much weight to give to a Senator's opposition to a nomination is left largely up to the chair of the committee. Among other issues, the chair will decide whether to honor the objections, voiced through blue slips, from all home-state senators or just those who belong to the same party as the president.

    When James O. Eastland (D-MS) chaired the Judiciary Committee from 1956 to 1978, his policy stated that if he did not get back two blue slips endorsing the nominee, the nomination would not move further in the process. Other chairs have said they would give blue slips strong consideration, but that a negative blue slip or one not returned by a Senator would not necessarily kill a nomination. Some Senators have declined to return a completed blue slip to the committee in an effort to delay action on the nomination.

    But, it looks like Utah Republicans are playing heavy-handed here with this nomination and applying pressure to get a Republican in there. That doesn't have to happen.

    All U.S. Attorneys do not have to be appointed by Senate confirmation. When Obama took office, out of 93 U.S. Attorneys, 54 were appointed by Senate confirmation (58%). The other 42% of the U.S. Attorneys across this country were either appointed by judges, interim appointments or career prosecutors serving while the nomination process was underway.

    There have been nominations made for both a Democrat and a Republican nominee to fill this U.S. Attorney position in Utah... and both were rejected by the White House during vetting. But, it looks like there are some good Democrats there for nomination, so not sure why this Teabagger has to be the one that gets the nod. That should not happen.

    Utah Democratic Party executive director Todd Taylor said he is frustrated with the Obama administration as well, though he suggested Hatch may share blame for the delay.

    "Whether it's the administration's fault or an intractable Orrin Hatch, I can't tell," he said. "It's now a question of, is it a problem between the two of them? If it's a lack of the White House vetting people, they need to get busy."

    Taylor said he's heard the names of several Salt Lake-area attorneys bandied in past months, including Jim McConkie, Sen. Ben McAdams, D-Salt Lake, and former state Sen. Scott McCoy. There's also the possibility that Christensen could fill the job permanently.

    And right now, in Utah, there is a career prosecutor in that U.S. Attorney position. She has been with the U.S. Attorney's office for 21 years and she was the first assistant of the former appointed U.S. Attorney Brett Tolman.

    Carlie Christensen was named acting U.S. attorney after Tolman's resignation. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder then appointed her to a 120-day term as U.S. attorney in July 2010. She has acted in an interim capacity since that term expired, said Department of Justice spokeswoman Jessica Smith.

    Although Christensen didn't receive a presidential appointment, Smith said, she is an experienced federal prosecutor who oversees the office's traditional prosecutorial and litigation functions.

    "Under her leadership, the office continues to effectively fulfill its responsibilities to promote and protect public safety and defend the interests of the taxpayers," she said.

    So it's not like it's the position is empty and work not being done.


    I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly, because you tread on my dreams. --William Butler Yeats

    by bronte17 on Tue Jul 12, 2011 at 02:02:25 AM PDT

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